Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Today's Card Analysis: Single-minded Girl Riddhe & ♪♪ Harmony

The Japanese card of the day comes from the latest in a series of Harmony units from G-Clan Booster 01: Academy of Divas. Single-minded Girl Riddhe functions like other on-ride units introduced since Generation Stride, bringing with her a non-generation break skill that can be resolved when one will be the second fighter to stride. When used alongside her generation break 2 counterpart, Miracle Voice Lawlis, Riddhe helps form an effective all-around deck that can function well in many different scenarios and against several types of opponents. Riddhe also makes better use of the Harmony mechanics introduced by Academy of Divas, and with proper play can act as a much less situational Alfred for Bermuda Triangle.

AUTO (Vanguard/Rearguard circles): ♪♪ Harmony
CONT (Vanguard circle): Generation break 1: During your turn, this unit gets Power +5000 for each of your units in ♪♪ Harmony.
AUTO: [Counterblast 1, Soulblast 1] When this unit is placed on the vanguard circle, you may pay the cost. If paid, look at up to 5 cards from the top of your deck, search for up to 1 card with the ♪♪ Harmony ability from among them, reveal it to your opponent, put it into your hand, and shuffle that deck.

Riddhe's on-ride counterblast 1 soulblast 1 searches the top 5 cards of the deck for another unit with the Harmony skill, and then adds that unit to hand. Her skill is invaluable when going first, as it's a net +1 in card advantage that lets you search out the pieces of your ♪♪ Harmony strategy. This helps the Bermuda deck stand up to opponents that try to deliberately prevent skills from going off by staying at grade 2, and makes better use of the initial ride than riding a breakride or breakstride grade 3. When going second, Riddhe is still valuable since you can search out either herself or Lawlis from the top 5 cards and immediately discard one of those units to stride during the stride step.

Riddhe's generation break 1 is the first skill to make use of the ♪♪ Harmony ability effectively. To use her, you have to understand how this mechanic works; if any unit (including units that do not have ♪♪ Harmony) is placed in the same column as Riddhe, both units will be in Harmony. If either unit leaves the field, neither is in Harmony. This means that if any units are in Harmony at all, there will always be a minimum of two in that state. Like a pair of idols singing a duet, they're not in Harmony anymore if one of them falls off the stage. Also note that ♪♪ Harmony is not an instance, but a state like rest and stand; it is either on or off, and multiple Harmonies on a single unit cannot be accrued. Because Riddhe's generation break 1 is worded to receive its power bonus for every unit in Harmony, and by nature of the ♪♪ Harmony ability there will always be a minimum of two units in that state, if Riddhe is active at all she will have a +10000 power bonus. If any of your rearguard columns and Riddhe are also in Harmony with their respective boosters, this will translate to a +20000 power boost. If all three columns are in Harmony, Riddhe's power will cap at 41000 power unboosted, completely exceeding the likes of the King of Knights' Vanguard Ezzell or the Liberator of the Round Table Alfred. In terms of raw power, Riddhe is a new frontier.

One problem that Riddhe doesn't entirely solve is the stapling of ♪♪ Harmony to generation break. It's very arguable that because being in Harmony is already a strict condition, Bermuda Triangle's skills ought not to have the generation break restriction attached at all. Generation break requires waiting for several turns for skills to go online, while being in Harmony requires jealously safeguarding one's cards in hand from retire and lock skills by not playing them at all until ♪♪ Harmony can be used. When put together, generation break and ♪♪ Harmony restrictions translate to not playing any rearguards until both cardfighters are at grade 3, and the comparative reward for this passive play is low. Even in the case of Riddhe, whose power output for input dramatically exceeds that of most stride units, this skill synergizes poorly with not playing rearguards until the turn before one uses Riddhe's generation break, and doesn't provide an adequate means of paying back for all the time spent biding. The opponent will generally be at 3 damage by the time Riddhe first goes online, but to use her high power effectively you need them to be at at least 4 damage.

The existing Harmony units are the new first vanguard Akari, the breakstride Lawlis (at left), the grade 1 Shizuku, and the generation break attackers Lurrie and Sanya. Lurrie and Sanya are standard 10000-power and 12000-power grade 1 and grade 2 attackers, but have the additional caveat of needing to be in Harmony to function, with the trade-off that they can attack either a rearguard or a vanguard. Standard generation break attackers can only attack a vanguard for their skill. But Duo and PR♥ISM subclan attackers can already attack both vanguards and rearguards while not needing to wait to be at grade 3 to do so; generation break attackers are already a step backwards from subclan attackers, and so the integration of ♪♪ Harmony with generation break is a further step down. There is a real need for ♪♪ Harmony units that do not need to be at generation break 1 for their skills to resolve.

In the case of Miracle Voice Lawlis, she's intended to synergize with First Lesson Akari (at right). Lawlis' on-stride counterblast returns a rearguard to hand and then draws a card for a net +1, but one of the advantages to this is that it resets Akari's Harmony. Because Lawlis is replaced by the unit that you stride, the Harmony she establishes with Akari when she rides disappears on-stride. Returning Akari to hand lets you play her to a rearguard column and follow her up by playing another rearguard, putting both Akari's generation break and ♪♪ Harmony ability online. Then you can use Akari's skill to put her into the soul, return the rearguard you called to put her in Harmony to hand, and draw another card. If used with the on-return counterblast of Lovely Day for a Walk Emilia from the same set, you can draw yet another card from Emilia for another net +1.

As a modern card advantage deck, the new Bermuda Triangle does have the benefit of being able to draw an extra card for every counterblast available. But unlike its contemporary, post-Generation Stride Oracle Think Tank, the new breed of Bermuda Triangle is discouraged from playing cards early game and has stringent requirements attached while also having no effective means of destroying the opponent at this time.

Drawing more cards on its own does not kill; it is telling that the height of Bermuda Triangle in the history of professional play is the rise of Duo Temptation Reit and her breakride Meer. What does it say that when Bermuda Triangle was given a revival legion in Monthly Bushiroad magazine, the unit created to revive Riviere was a restanding vanguard rather than a unit that supported Riviere herself? Every version of Bermuda Triangle that has placed in a major tournament since Divas' Duet has integrated either the stand skills of Reit, Trois or both. Prior to this, the primary deck for Bermuda Triangle in professional play was PR♥ISM-Promise Labrador, a Phantom Blaster Dragon clone that followed the formula of Death Army Cosmo Lord. Lawlis' generation break 2 is a Labrador for the current generation, dividing up the power and critical bonus into two instances of +5000 power on any two units and an additional critical for herself. Like generation break and Harmony itself, this is a step back from where Bermuda Triangle had progressed; and like virtually every clan of the game's ongoing fifth block, Bermuda Triangle is in danger of falling into a position where a previously existing subclan threatens to overtake the generation break support entirely by picking and choosing which units of the new support to integrate. Decks with strong early and midgame units that don't rely on generation break generally outcompete the new support, adopting the G-perfect defense cards from each set for their unflipping properties, clones of Steam Fighter Amber for their synergy with the existing deck, the stride units themselves and whichever support cards make the least trouble for that subclan's existing base of support. To avoid being overtaken by Duo or PR♥ISM, the Harmony deck needs to justify the long wait time with explosive gameplay.

While Riddhe is the first unit that makes the simultaneous wait for generation break and Harmony worthwhile, that doesn't change the awkward timing with which her massive center lane comes into play. There is an immediate solution in Fighter's Collection 2015, which provided Bermuda Triangle with its current set of strides. In particular, Legend of the Glass Slipper Amoris can return up to two units to hand when stridden, and by using this in conjunction with Lawlis' on-stride skill you can return three rearguards from the field to the hand. This doesn't address the issue of retire and lock potentially taking those rearguards away before Amoris can hit the field, but for the purposes of being able to field your ♪♪ Harmony units without losing access to their skills later, Amoris is a strong play that lets you treat your hand and field as one in the same. With her stride it's possible to field Shizuku and Sanya early on as a 16000-power lane, then when you reach grade 3 stride into Amoris to return both units to hand and call them again to put them in Harmony and set off their skills. The greater concern is if the first clan booster will provide any strides on the level of Amoris in terms of utility, and if the remaining support can do better than Riddhe.

As a whole the ♪♪ Harmony strategy has several holes in it that Academy of Divas has only just begun to address. Riddhe is one of the first cards in the set to make good use of its conditions, by benefiting from every unit in Harmony rather than having a more traditional skill attached to Harmony conditions. If Academy of Divas takes the Riddhe route of gaining bonuses for each Harmonized unit in play, the results will snowball into a strong gameplay variant that stands apart from the old engines.

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